Outtakes from the Feministing retreat

The crew had the absolute pleasure of gathering this weekend in New York City (thanks for the hospitality NARAL-New York!) to hatch all kinds of grand plan for the future of Feministing. We do so much online work together, that it is an absolute thrill to be off line and in person. Turns out, we really, really like each other.

When we weren’t plotting the revolution, we got silly. Exhibit A, we all decided on our own spirit animals (sometimes with a little friendly input):

Samhita-cat
Chloe-hippogriff
Janna-bunny
Zerlina-deer
Vanessa-fox
Maya-dolphin
Lori-clam
Jos-mongoose
Courtney-antelope
Miriam-pug

Exhibit B: dance breaks

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12 Comments

  1. Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Exhibit A: worth starting a conversation about cultural appropriation?

    • Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I am a looooong time reader and I just made an account to comment and say the same.

      To Courtney, et. al.: was there a spirit involved in this for you? If not, why not call it just “animal i feel like imagining myself as” or whatever. Or, the secular “favourite animal”.

      • Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

        God. I’m as willing and eager to call out Feministing staff as anyone, but this is moving into the realm of the ridiculous.

        The concept of “spirit animals” has been fully and completely incorporated into the western psyche for years and years. The idea is, at this point, more American than sandwiches, and just as objectionable; which is to say “not at all.”

        Seriously, is this what’s left to complain about? Is this what now constitutes useful and progressive discourse?

        Because to me, it sounds an awful lot like “looking for things to be offended by.”

        (Off topic, but if it’s relevant, I am extremely well versed in native American shamanism, and still am finding myself hard pressed to muster any offense here.)

    • Posted July 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m being a little facetious here, as I have read enough on this site to know they spend a fair amount of time dissecting many an event, party, and idea where it’s felt that someone is unfairly appropriating another culture. That said, which culture/s do you think might be appropriated here? Many cultures all across the world either had or still have some variation on this practice, and new ones are still being made. While there is part of me that always groans a bit when someone engages in appropriation without knowing the background or history of a culture, I can also appreciate that new rituals and traditions are made all the time, and that I might not know the full intention behind every move.

    • Posted July 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      I had the same reaction. Yikes, y’all.

    • Posted July 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Yes. Yes.

      • Posted July 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        In the Shamanism tradition, as I understand it, spirit animals represent the essence of a person–something ineffable and intuitive. That’s the way in which I intended it and we had the conversation. It’s my understanding, from those I’ve talked to that are practiced in this tradition, that there isn’t supposed to be an intermediary between people and their spirituality in this regard.

        Happy to learn more if I’m missing something.

        • Posted July 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          Glad to see additional detail. My eyebrows flew up because you prefaced your remarks in the post with “we got silly”, and followed up with a dance break. What you just described isn’t all that silly.

          The terminology has been floating around social media lately as a way for people to express affinity with internet memes and various celebrities, too, which is different than what you describe.

        • Posted July 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          The problem isn’t that you don’t seem to know what the concept of spirit animals means, but that you’re treating the concept with levity. Or so it struck me, reading this.

          • Posted July 12, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            Yes. It is worth noting that one of the spirit animals on the list is a hippogriff, a wholly fictional animal, which strikes me as more silly than reverent.

            It’s one thing to approach another religious tradition’s practices with respect, even if you don’t get all the aspects right or derive your own types of meaning from them. It’s quite another to turn them into a joke, which the hippogriff thing looks like to me, unless I am mistaken.

  2. Posted July 12, 2011 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Better than any vid me and my BFFs would do, called “Sit Around and Chat About Stuff”

  3. Posted July 12, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that cultural appropriation isn’t about offence, it’s about oppression. Therefore, while many instances of cultural appropriation are easily spotted because they are accompanied by a complete cluelessness about the actual meanings of the things being appropriated, having more knowledge isn’t actually a valid defence: oppression accompanied by knowledge is still oppression.

    Obviously I have no idea what actually went on here, but here’s a really useful guide on drawing the line between cultural appreciation and appropriation: http://thesadnessofpencils.tumblr.com/post/3485124248/do-you-have-any-guidelines-on-how-a-white-not-english

    And for anyone else who’s interested, an intro on what cultural appropriation’s actually about: http://whatfreshhellisthis.tumblr.com/post/5261084308/whats-wrong-with-cultural-appropriation-i-mean-i. Zie links to the first post. I’m not Native, so I’ve got as much privilege on this issue as anyone, and I also know very very little about Native Cultures. But I would suspect that referring to the Shaman tradition or shamanism in the singular is homogenising (2nd point in the 2nd list).

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